President's report

By Peter Elam, CMIIA QIAL CIA


2020/2021 has been an exceptionally challenging year for the Chartered IIA, along with many other organisations having to grapple with the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The financial outlook, like for many organisations since the beginning of the pandemic has not been optimistic. From March 2020, we have had to cancel all face-to face meetings, conferences, training and events, shut our office in Clapham and move our staff to remote working. However, despite the number of challenges that the Institute has faced over the past year, I am pleased to report that we have put in place solid foundations to make the Institute financially sustainable for the future.

The demand for the profession has not faltered, the Chartered IIA is the second biggest Institute outside of North America with around 10,000 members at the end of the year. The Chartered IIA has also remained a part of the Global IIA, which has over 200,000 members internationally.

The Institute’s investment in equipment and systems in the previous years had meant that it was able to swiftly adapt to remote working and has continued to do so over the year. This enabled us to carry out the necessary work and continue to innovate, influence and support the profession during this difficult time. We have also continued to provide a high level of service and have worked tirelessly to respond to our members needs and concerns during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Annual Conference is one of the prime examples of how the institute has adapted over the past year and sought to innovate and harness the power of new technology. With over 700 registered attendees, the conference was for the first time fully online and sought to deliver an immersive and interactive experience for attendees despite the challenges faced by remote working. This has also been reflected in the wide-ranging activity in the rest of the training and events programme, including the Heads of Internal Audit Online Forum and the newly established Talk to Internal Audit live stream which have been widely successful in engaging with the internal audit profession. Our External Quality Assessment service has also continued to go from strength to strength - almost doubling forecast predictions during the year.

The impact of the pandemic on the profession has also been reflected in the Institute’s policy work. The ‘Internal Audit in Lockdown’ report was published in September and looked at the impact of the pandemic on internal audit teams across the UK and Ireland. Our annual thought-leadership piece ‘Risk in Focus 2021’, also published in September, attracted over 500 responses to the survey from Chief Audit Executives across the profession in Europe. We also published new thought-leadership pieces on key risks such as cyber security and climate change which reflected on the current challenging operating environment aimed to share insights and help internal audit teams support their organisations to navigate these dynamic risk areas.

January 2021 saw the publication of the revised ‘Internal Audit Financial Services Code of Practice’. With only minor changes on the previous version, the aim of the revision was to harmonise the Code with the ‘Internal Audit Code of Practice’ aimed at private and third sectors, and published in January 2020.

Finally, in March 2021 the Government published it’s long-awaited White Paper ‘Restoring Trust in Audit and Corporate Governance’ and we were pleased to see much of what the Institute has been advocating on audit reform over the past few years reflected in the White Paper. While most of the proposals are focussed on delivering more effective statutory/external audit, there are several proposals that will impact on the future of the internal audit profession. These proposals include the new Audit and Assurance Policy, along with the SOX-style proposals for a strengthened internal control framework, both of which should help to enhance and strengthen internal audit’s position. Other proposals such as the proposed new scope for statutory/external audit, as well as a new corporate auditing profession pose both challenges as well as possible opportunities for our profession. The Institute will continue to speak out, advocate and represent the internal audit profession on these important matters.

As I have mentioned at the beginning of this report, the Institute was faced with an exceptionally challenging operating environment from the beginning of this financial year. However, I am very pleased to have been able to deliver this report with so many achievements and against all odds, a much more financially sustainable future for the Institute. I would like to say a big thank you to all the staff for these exceptional achievements over the past year, who have done an amazing job throughout the pandemic and continue to do so. I would also like to thank my colleagues on Council, our volunteers and our members across the UK and Ireland, for the continued support of the Institute.

As we now begin to focus on pandemic recovery, there is no doubt that we will continue to face turbulent and uncertain economic times. As a result, all organisations, whether they be in the private, public or third sectors, will continue to face levels of adverse risk, not seen for decades. This means boards should be turning to effective and well-resourced internal audit functions to ensure their governance, risk and control frameworks are robust. So, as well as challenges, the current climate also creates opportunities for internal audit to step up and demonstrate their value to boards, in helping them to successfully navigate the risks and uncertainties that lie ahead.

I look forward to continuing to work with you over the coming months and I am confident the Institute and the internal audit profession can now look forward to more optimistic, prosperous, and successful times moving forwards.

Next: Directors' report